Traffic Pattern

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Each airfield no matter the size, be it London Gatwick (EGKK) or Earls Colne (EGSR), have an identical Traffic Pattern. These are broken down into 5 sections:

  • Upwind - Aircraft climbs straight ahead from the runway.
  • Crosswind - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees.
  • Downwind - Aircraft turns a further left or right 90 degrees, flying parallel to the runway in the opposite direction.
  • Base - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees.
  • Final - Aircraft turns left or right 90 degrees descending towards the runway ahead.

  • A visual representation of the above is below:

    Airfield pattern.jpg


    Joining the Circuit

    Clearance to enter the circuit pattern is issued by an Aerodrome Controller, either when an aircraft is waiting at a holding point on the ground or after they have been cleared into a Control Zone by the relevant Radar or Area Controller.


    Aircraft entering the Control Zone should ensure a sufficient distance is allocated before contacting the Aerodrome Controller to obtain and acknowledge clearances prior to proceeding into the circuit pattern. The aircraft should be instructed which leg of the pattern to join, information such as landing direction or runway in use and any other necessary items such as Traffic Information.